Seminar 3: Walid Raad & Jalal Toufic: The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster

January 31 through February 12, 2007

Led by Walid Raad and Jalal Toufic, this seminar explored Toufic’s concept of the withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster, which he first advanced in Over-Sensitivity (1996) and then elaborated further in Forthcoming (2000). To detect this withdrawal, whether symptomatically or otherwise, one is well advised to look for it in messianic movements as well as in artistic and literary works: “With regard to the surpassing disaster, art acts like the mirror in vampire films: it reveals the withdrawal of what we think is still there. ‘You have seen nothing in Hiroshima’ [Hiroshima mon amour]. Does this entail that one should not record? No. One should record this ‘nothing,’ which only after the resurrection can be available.” We will ask if and how one can record this “nothing,” as well as how to contribute to the resurrection of the withdrawn tradition—without this resurrection tradition becomes a counterfeit of itself. The seminar consisted of a series of close readings of Toufic’s writings, complemented by screenings, and other presentations by invited writers, artists, and filmmakers whose works deal, directly or indirectly, with the withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster, the counterfeit, and the resurrection of art and tradition.

Suggested books and texts
Jorge Luis Borges, “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” Collected Fictions, trans. Andrew Hurley, New York: Viking, 1998, pp. 88–95
Lynn Gumpert, Christian Boltanski, Paris: Flammarion, 1994
András J. Riedlmayer (principal Investigator), “Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1992–1996: A Post-war Survey of Selected Municipalities,” 2002
Andras Riedlmayer, “Libraries Are Not for Burning: International Librarianship and the Recovery of the Destroyed Heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina”
Jalal Toufic, “Credits Included,” Over-Sensitivity, Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1996
Jalal Toufic, “Forthcoming,” Forthcoming, Berkeley, CA: Atelos, 2000
Jalal Toufic, Distracted, 2nd ed., Berkeley, CA: Tuumba Press, 2003, pp. 82–92

Andrei Tarkovsky, The Sacrifice, 1986
Andrei Tarkovsky, Michael Leszczylowski, 1988
Chris Marker, La Jetée, 1962
F. W. Murnau, Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror, 1922
Werner Herzog, Nosferatu the Vampyre, 1979; Lessons of Darkness, 1992
Alain Resnais, Hiroshima mon amour, 1959, script by Marguerite Duras
Jean-Luc Godard, King Lear, 1987; Passion, 1982; and Histoire(s) du cinéma
Akira Kurosawa, Dreams, 1990


Jalal Toufic and Walid Raad

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